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Building a Housewife's Paradise: Gender, Politics, and American Grocery Stores in the Twentieth Century Hardcover – May 1, 2010
History To Repeat & Some To Not
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Tracey Deutsch's well-written and impeccably researched book is a major contribution to studies of mass retailing and the politics of mass consumption . . . . [Her] richly detailed and rigorously analyzed study will find an appreciative audience among historians of gender, business, labor, and consumer culture.--American Historical Review
[A] vivid social history--Enterprise & Society
[This] book causes readers to look more closely at one of the most important consumer experiences of the twentieth century.--The Historian
Paints a picture of stores alive with social interactions and struggles that often contradict the standardized model supermarkets are known for.--University of Chicago Magazine
Deutsch convincingly shows how the creation of the supermarket was a highly contingent, negotiated, social and political process; not inevitable and not easily explained as a result of consumer demand or consumer satisfaction.--American Studies
[Deutsch's] work makes a significant contribution to the growing historiography of consumer politics. . . . Deutsch demonstrates the central role that gender played in the rise of supermarkets.--Journal of American History
A meticulously researched study that delivers vast quantities of data. . . . Deutsch argues forcefully that retail history warrants close attention. . . . Recommended.--Choice
Deutsch demonstrates that the history of food retailing in mid-twentieth-century America was deeply political in ways that have been underappreciated. With comprehensive research and effective presentation, Building a Housewife's Paradise makes a significant contribution to gender studies and business history.--Glenna Matthews, author of Just a Housewife: The Rise and Fall of Domesticity in America
This is a politically charged chronicle of an everyday institution. Deutsch is at the leading edge of one of the most dynamic and innovative fields of historical scholarship today. In her exceptionally sophisticated treatment, daily food shopping becomes an act of public engagement, struggle, even resistance. This is a big story dealing with the very heart of consumer culture.--Warren Belasco, author of Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food
It seems amazing that no one had yet written about this ubiquitous feature of American physical and economic landscapes. Deutsch's argument about the rise of supermarkets is important because it avoids the sense of inevitability that sometimes surrounds contemporary public debates about corporate concentration and urban sprawl in the era of Wal-Mart. The narrative she presents is not a triumphant one, nor one in which smaller groceries are necessarily victims of corporate power and a 'bigger is better' mentality. Rather, she shows a) the contests over, and even failings of, smaller stores as a driver for supermarkets, rather than a result of them; b) the historical specificity of the time (and places) in which they emerged; and c) the negotiations between historical agents, ranging from the federal government to individual shoppers, who were involved in supermarket planning. This is still a story about power, economic, politics, and of course food procurement, but it is a nuanced and sensitive story, told in a measured way.--Marina Moskowitz, University of Glasgow
Putting the state back into the study of consumption, Tracey Deutsch traces the rise of the supermarket as the essential form of food procurement. She highlights the embeddedness of gender within the development of modern retailing, expanding feminist understanding of unpaid labor, women's work, and political activism. You'll never be able to think about shopping in the same way after reading this compelling book!--Eileen Boris, Hull Professor and Chair, Department of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara